1939 Movies

Discover the captivating film selections of 1939 through our exclusive Plex Database. It's never been easier to find the genre or title you're looking for with direct access to such a large movie library. Our platform is designed to enhance your browsing experience, making it easy and efficient to explore the cinematic highlights of 1939.
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The Best Movies in 1939

Gone with the Wind

Released in 1939, "Gone with the Wind" remains a cornerstone in the domain of cinematic epics. This movie, set during the tumultuous period of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, presents an in-depth portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara. Scarlett's character, known for her manipulative tendencies, takes viewers on a journey through her complicated relationship with Rhett Butler. Beyond its romantic storyline, the film gets into themes of love, war, and the human instinct for survival. Its historical context provides a canvas for the exploration of these themes, making it a powerful piece of cinematic history.

The Wizard of Oz

"The Wizard of Oz" stands out as a musical adventure cherished by audiences of all ages. The film follows Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, whose house is picked up by a tornado and deposited in the magical Land of Oz. Dorothy's quest to return home involves securing the help of the Wizard, which leads her to meet three unique friends along the way. The story is more than an adventure; it's a narrative on bravery, friendship, and the concept of home. Its enduring appeal can be attributed to its inventive use of music, color, and special effects, which were groundbreaking at the time of release.

The Rules of the Game

Jean Renoir's "The Rules of the Game" is a film that adeptly navigates the intricacies of French bourgeois society on the brink of World War II. The movie is set in a country estate and uses a hunting party as the backdrop to unravel the complex web of relationships among its wealthy guests and their servants. It's a comedy-drama that scrutinizes the social norms and behaviors of its characters, making a poignant statement on the societal structure of the time. The film's critical view of societal norms, combined with its expertly crafted narrative structure, secures its place as a seminal work in film history.

The Roaring Twenties

Exploring the post-World War I era and the Prohibition period in the United States, "The Roaring Twenties" is a crime drama that provides an insightful look into the lives and moral dilemmas of three men trying to navigate the changing times. The film addresses the implications of the war and Prohibition on American society, highlighting the challenges people faced during the era. Its depiction of friendship, loyalty, and the pursuit of the American dream offers a poignant snapshot of a defining period in American history. "The Roaring Twenties" successfully combines historical context with personal narratives, making it a captivating watch.


Directed by John Ford, "Stagecoach" is a film that transformed the Western genre. The plot centers around a group of passengers traveling through Apache territory, which serves as a foundation for examining themes of social prejudice, redemption, and survival. The movie is renowned for its character development and tension among the group, offering a deeper look into the human condition. Its innovative narrative and technical achievements enhanced the storytelling of Western films, influencing countless directors and the genre itself. "Stagecoach" is a landmark film that showcases the potential of the Western as a serious and compelling genre.

Film & Industry Highlights of 1939

The Context of 1939 in the Film Industry

The film industry in 1939 was characterized by an unprecedented output of films that have stood the test of time. This year, Hollywood released 365 films, a considerable number reflecting the industry's productivity at the time. This era, often referred to as the Golden Age of Hollywood, showcased the film studios' ability to produce films that captured audiences' imaginations.

Notable Films and Their Impact

Among the numerous releases, certain films stood out for their storytelling, visual effects, and cultural impact. "Gone with the Wind" not only won Best Picture at the 12th Academy Awards but also marked an influential moment in history with Hattie McDaniel's win for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award. "The Wizard of Oz" is another cornerstone of 1939, enchanting audiences with its innovative use of Technicolor. "Stagecoach" revitalized the Western genre and catapulted John Wayne to stardom. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" showcased the talents of James Stewart in a politically charged drama that remains relevant. "Wuthering Heights" brought Emily Brontë's classic novel to life, captivating audiences with its tragic romance.

Audience Engagement and Box Office Success

With 80 million cinema tickets sold in the US alone, 1939 films saw phenomenal box office success. The appeal of these films can be attributed to a combination of compelling storytelling, technological advancements in filmmaking, and the magnetic allure of the leading actors of the time, many of whom were introduced to audiences by the studios themselves. "Gone with the Wind" led the box office in North America, followed by "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Jesse James", showcasing a wide range of genres that appealed to a broad audience.

Technological Innovations and Advances

1939 was not just about compelling stories; it was also a year of important technological advancements in filmmaking. The use of Technicolor in "The Wizard of Oz" presented audiences with a resonant world that was previously unimaginable on the silver screen. Such innovations not only enhanced the visual appeal of films but also broadened the scope of storytelling in cinema.

Contributions to the Film Industry Beyond Hollywood

The establishment of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in 1939 marked a notable development in the film industry in North America. Originally created as an advisory board, the NFB shifted towards active production to meet the demands of the Second World War. This move underscores the global impact of films and the role they play in shaping cultural and societal narratives beyond entertainment.

Legacy and Historical Significance

The films of 1939 have left an enduring legacy, continuing to influence filmmakers and entertain audiences decades later. Their success and the innovations of the time played a vital role in shaping the future direction of the film industry. Film historians routinely cite 1939 as a pivotal year, not just for its high-quality output but also for how it encapsulated the potential of cinema as a form of art and communication.

Recognition and Awards

The 11th and 12th Academy Awards, recognizing films from 1938 and 1939, highlighted the achievements of this golden year. Spencer Tracy's Best Actor win for "Boys Town," and Walter Brennan's Best Supporting Actor award for "Kentucky" at the 11th Academy Awards were precursors to the recognition the films of 1939 would receive. The 12th Academy Awards further cemented the year's significance, with "Gone with the Wind" taking home the Best Picture award, among others.